On Oct. 11 the Defense Department released its recruiting figures for fiscal 2005. Much attention has been given to the Army missing its goal of 80,000 recruits by 6,600. Despite some alarmist rhetoric, the Army is not in a recruiting crisis or considering a draft.

To put this year's shortfall in perspective, the total of 73,400 people recruited is within 2 percent of the average recruitment each year for the past 10 years. And the Army finished the last four months of the year strongly, recruiting more than 8,000 people each month. The Army also exceeded its reenlistment goals, enabling it to just about make up for the recruiting shortfall.

The Army is undergoing its most extensive reorganization since the eve of World War II. It is putting more combat units into the pool of deployable units, and it is significantly reducing the stress on the reserves. Some positions formerly held by soldiers now are held by civilians. We also have reduced the number of soldiers in transit or in school at any point, so the "operational Army" -- that part of the force that deploys and fights or supports the combat units -- will increase by 40,000 by the end of 2007. This initiative and others are producing a bigger war-fighting force that is more lethal, more agile, more expeditionary and more efficient.

Recruiting isn't just a challenge for the Army; it's a challenge for the nation. We need young people to continue to answer the call to duty, just as they have during the Army's 230 years of service to the nation.


Secretary of the Army